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Zen Kitchen, Ottawa ON

January 6, 2011

*sigh*

That really is all you can say about Zen Kitchen, a new vegan restaurant in Chinatown of Ottawa.

I shouldn’t dare try to review this restaurant, but by golly, I will.

*sigh*

Zen Kitchen is a sight for sore eyes. It’s truly an oasis in a city that is only just starting to embrace vegan cuisine (slowly but surely). And then BOOM! You are hit with an upscale vegan restaurant with food that is truly second to none.

I’ve been twice and each time I go, I insist on complementing my meal with a great wine. Zen Kitchen has a sommelier and you’d be wise to take advantage of his advice. The best (vegan) Pinot Grigio I have ever tasted is served here and if you like light-bodied whites, this one is for you: Vineland Estates Pinot Grigio 2008 VQA. It’s so smooth and silky with a warm finish, like a hug.

It’s really hard not to want to order everything off the menu. But most recently, sharing with a friend, we settled for two starters:

  • the soup du jour (a smoky creamy leak soup) ($8);
  • the Chipotle black bean cakes with fresh guacamole, salsa, vegan sour cream, and handcut tortilla chips ($12)

and two mains:

  • Ravioli filled with pesto-cheese, with smoky tomato sauce and roasted vegetables ($22)
  • Panko-crusted seitan medallions with a cranberry-teriyaki sauce, ancient grain pilaf, and Asian slaw ($22)

Let me save you and I both time and just say: everything was crazy good. Granted, the portion sizes are much smaller than at other restaurants, but that goes with the atmosphere and the artistic beauty of each plate. This is fine-dining after all, people, and you should not expect “American family restaurant” portions. Even so, you eat so deliciously slowly, savouring each bite, and by the end of the meal (shame, you never wanted it to end), you are surprisingly full, with room only for… dessert, of course.

What’s an incredible vegan restaurant experience without an incredible vegan dessert? I never understood people when they said that chocolate was better than sex… until that day at Zen Kitchen. And I don’t think it’s just my declining sex drive as I increase in age. This is what opened my mind:

  • Spicy Mexican chocolate cake with warm chocolate sauce, creme anglaise, and berry coulis ($8)

A chocolate shock to the system. Never before has chocolate tasted so good. For real though, you can’t pass this shit up.

And then you leave, much more zen that when you had arrived. I have nothing bad to say about this restaurant really, except maybe that I can’t go that often due to the prices. This blog writing doesn’t pay that much.

Conclusion: visit Zen Kitchen in Ottawa and have your senses gently coerced into pure bliss. It’s truly an experience.

As an afterthought, I should mention that we were also presented with two small lotus root chips topped with pickled beets and horseradish cream as a sampler on the house. Once again, delicious.

Craving another Zen Kitchen review? Check out the one on the NCVA blog here and even here.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2011 9:27 am

    You’re back!! :)

    I drooled the whole way through your post! Admittedly, I’ve never been to Zen Kitchen, but it’s now near the top of my list for new places to try. Kinda reminds me of Candle 79 in NYC…they also have a mexican chocolate brownie that is to die for! Can’t wait to try ZK’s version

  2. January 11, 2011 9:36 pm

    The mexican chocolate cake is unreal. I blogged about it in my own ZenKitchen review. I want it so badly now.

    -Pamela

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